The debutant steps out: European Sign Expo preview

Pyramid Computer's polytouch solutions can pair with receipt printers and other peripherals to create new customer-facing propositions, including this concierge solution

Pyramid Computer’s polytouch solutions can pair with receipt printers and other peripherals to create new customer-facing propositions, including this concierge solution

The buzz is gathering pace for European Sign Expo (ESE), which, in only a few hours, will open its doors for the first time at London’s Excel exhibition centre. Presented in colocation with FESPA’s wide-format print show, which carries the same name as the organisation, and having acquired Screenmedia Expo a few months before, ESE draws in old and new exhibitors from the analogue and digital systems worlds, representing a new way of looking at what each calls ‘signage’.

Inurface Media was one of the first companies to sign up. Director Joshua Bunce explains that the positive exposure the company received last year at Screenmedia Expo, plus the fact that this is a new show, encouraged him to participate. “The signage industry is changing and we have lots of bespoke solutions of interest to people from the print industry that are thinking about jumping into digital,” he elaborates. “Print and digital complement each other, but the latter provides more flexibility and the opportunity of having dynamic content.”

Bunce is hoping the colocation of ESE with FESPA will bring more visitors to his stand. This year, Inurface will showcase videowalls using technology from NEC and Christie MicroTiles, plus a 46″ (116.8cm) IP65-rated outdoor screen developed by the company itself. Also on display will be an interactive, gesture-based rugby game created for the Heineken World Cup, as well as wayfinding solutions.

As a franchise-based network of sign-making companies, Signs Express doesn’t originate in the digital signage arena but decided a month ago that a stand at ESE might help it reach into a new market. Headquartered in Norfolk, Signs Express has 70 franchise centres across the UK and Ireland and has become a household name since its inception 20 years ago.

“Our goal for the show is to speak to specifiers and end users about our signs and graphics services, and in particular our national account and project management solutions,” comments marketing manager Rebecca Dack. “We are interested in finding out more about opportunities in digital signage, as well as changes in wide-format digital print machinery.”

Pyramid Computer’s business development manager for polytouch, Florian Pagendarm, will be at the show’s Digital Lounge demonstrating the company’s 22 and 32 Classic kiosk terminals. “ESE provides us with an ideal platform to reach a wide range of vertical markets that are key for us, such as tourism, transportation, retail, hospitality, banking, public sector and events,” commends Pagendarm.

Pierre Gillet, BrightSign’s vice-president for Europe, is also excited about the event. BrightSign’s XD Smart Menu Board makes its debut at the show: an all-in-one, integrated digital menuboard solution for fast-food outlets, cafeterias and restaurants, the package has been specified to make it simple for novice installers to construct their first projects cost-effectively and without specialist knowledge.

“[ESE] promises to take digital signage to a whole new audience,” he states. “We are very much part of the signage industry as a whole. The key audience for us is not only end users, but the integrators and installers that they rely on for effective signage.”

Meanwhile, on the FESPA side of the show partition, established software vendor Caldera will be showing its own digital signage proposition. Having spent many years in the wide-format industry developing its RIP platforms, Caldera wants to build the bridge between print and digital with its Variable Display product. New templating features, in particular, now promise to make the creation of an effective campaign based on original print artwork even simpler.

For some, the success of the show doesn’t lie in the crossover between formats, or even the presentation of new offerings. Former exhibitor Richard Corbett, founder and chief executive of Eyetease, which launched its iTaxitop at Screenmedia Expo three years ago, is looking for diversity in the visitor base: “Last year distinctly lacked a presence from the media owners,” he explains. “The million dollar question is whether or not they will be present this year to assess their options across print and digital formats.”

The show’s exhibitors, and therefore the products on offer, weigh in at an easier point of cross-over for the sign and display producers treading the halls next door at FESPA. Seminars – including those from our editor-in-chief James Matthews-Paul – on digital signage basics should also help with this ambition. If delivered well, it may not matter that there is less at ESE specifically for the DOOH (digital out-of-home) crowd, and instead could create a show that serves the new digital signage channel well enough to earn its place on the must-attend list.

First Published 24 June 2013 – Output


Intevi: using digital signage to gather sales information

Intevi, a new digital signage company, is developing off-the-shelf solutions for today’s demanding retail market. Adam Wilson, co-founder and director of Intevi, talked to Output about the company’s new Interactive Retail Unit (iRU).

Intevi's iRU can measure sales as well as attract shoppers

Intevi’s iRU can measure sales as well as attract shoppers

Seven months ago Wilson, formerly of dZine and AMX, started Intevi looking to provide end-to-end digital media solutions. Intevi’s iRU software allows digital signage screens to react to what is happening in shops, particularly where customers are encouraged to touch and feel products in an interactive way.

“The software is based on our Intevi Digital Poster solution which is a traditional digital signage product,” explains Wilson. “The content played can be managed in the cloud or it can be stored locally, or even a mixture of both. Our software also allows the media owner to schedule content changes in line with seasons, product releases, and so on, over the internet or via encrypted USB dongles.”

With this solution retailers are able to display an attractor content loop to engage dynamically with its customers. Once the customer approaches the display and a product is lifted from the shelf, a video specific to this product is triggered. So, for instance, if the shelf has female-orientated perfumes and male-targeted aftershaves, a suitable video will be displayed depending on the target gender of the product that the customer picks up.

“We first developed this solution for a couple of clients, and now it is an off-the-shelf product offering at Intevi,” says Wilson. “We have designed a physical interactive module, which allows for the various triggers to be connected and programmed accordingly. The interactive module communicates with the screen and stores the content ready to be played back.”

The content displayed can be triggered via a range of methods: product pick-up; pressure sensor; motion sensor; push buttons; gesture; or using analytical cameras which can determine the age and gender of the person in front of the screen. The content activated is specific to the action performed.

“Retailers are stepping up to the fact that consumers are more knowledgeable and tech savvy than ever before. Standard, non-interactive digital screens are seen by some retailers as old news and we are constantly investigating the latest solutions for our digital retail customers,” adds Wilson.

But the most interesting feature of this software is that it can provide retailers with real data on what products are most successful and which ones aren’t. They can then draw sales statistics and fine-tune their next order, change the location of the product and use the digital media displays for more insightful knowledge.

“Our system collates all information about what products were picked up, by whom, when, how many times. This is then cross-referenced with sales data to see what products where actually purchased,” concludes Wilson.

Screens are no longer just ‘moving picture decoration’ – they are real retail tools for information for the customer and the retailer. Retailers can improve products sales and get their numbers on the ROI from the screens.

first published 18 July 2012 – Output